Timbers kick off final week of preseason

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers began their final week of preseason training Tuesday at PGE Park. Under soggy conditions, the players participated in a series of small-sided drills as they gear up for their preseason match on Friday against the University of Portland at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex.
 
Friday’s showdown marks the Timbers’ final preseason match before they begin the 2008 USL First Division campaign on April 17 against the Puerto Rico Islanders at PGE Park.
 
Coming and Going: New Timbers goalkeeper Ray Burse, who is on loan for the 2008 season from Major League Soccer's FC Dallas, re-joined the team on Tuesday for training. Burse was in Houston over the weekend for FC Dallas' MLS match against the Dynamo. The loan agreement between FC Dallas and the Timbers was finalized Monday.
 
Not in camp this week is Japanese striker Takayuki Suzuki, who traveled back to Japan to finalize his visa. He is expected back in Portland by the end of the week.
 
Signed in early March, midfielder Arsene Oka could arrive in Portland as early as this week. Oka, a former member of the Ivory Coast’s U-17 and U-20 National Teams, played for the New England Revolution of MLS last season.
 
Keep Your Eyes Open: According to an ESPN Soccer Net article posted on www.espn.com Monday, Portland’s Suzuki was ranked No. 1 in the top five players to watch this season in the USL First Division. Suzuki was followed by Minnesota’s Tighe Dombrowski, Charleston’s Lester More, Miami’s Alex Afonso and Montreal’s Luis Aguilar.
 
Who's Counting? Since training camp opened on March 10, Timbers players have participated in 26 days of training or preseason matches over the past four weeks. Week 5 of training camp will consist of five more days of training plus the team's final preseason match.
 
With Burse, the Timbers now have 18 signed roster players heading into the 2008 season.
 
Don’t Miss It: The Timbers kick off the 2008 season on April 17 when they play host to Puerto Rico at PGE Park at 7 p.m. On April 17, the Timbers will honor long-time team icon Jim Serrill, also known as “Timber Jim,” who retired from the organization in January after several years of entertaining soccer fans in Portland. The first 1,000 fans will receive commemorative “Timber Jim Farewell” t-shirts presented by Shindaiwa and 2008 schedule magnets courtesy of PGE. Tickets, starting at $11, are available through the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (503) 224-4400.